Justine’s is made of magic. Like that time we stopped in after a football game and a party of six young ladies appeared in wedding dresses or that year we wove our way through deep cabernet curtains a la Twin Peaks to enter the restaurant. And then there’s the beautifully-bizarre experience of finding fine French food in the far east side among sketchy streets and abandoned warehouses (“When you think you’ve gone too far, keep going.”), seemingly a secret spot out in the hinterlands (although gentrification has now slithered into the area). Justine’s has a New York, bohemian, Marfa vibe, channeling Andy Warhol if he was part cowboy and part chef, a wave of a bebattered spoon with dusty sophistication. You could ride up in a horse, order a plate of charcuterie, and then head out back to see Surfbort at Justine’s, and fit right in.
The atmosphere is bar-none the best in Austin if you like that lo-fi/hi-fi vibe as much as we do with a healthy dollop of surrealism and steaming sensuality. The food is really good: The Royale with Cheese (hand-ground Angus beef, gruyere, house-made mayonnaise, butter lettuce, and tomato on ciabatta with frites; $16) is one of the top three burgers in town in my opinion. French traditionals such as the Moutes Frites (mussels mariniere with pommes frites; $22) are made with grandmotherly love. Since I lamely get the burger every time I go (it is sooooo freakin’ good), I haven’t dug into the menu, but the bride has, and it’s all done expertly well. Justine’s is one of our favorite places to visit in Austin. Get there early because she fills up fast!
web&where: interwebs; 4710 east 5th street; (512) 385-2900
what’s the deal? hip French cuisine with dusty sophistication; sit down
overall: **** (food****; drink****; atmosphere*****; service****; instagrammability****)
– meh [think twice]
* OK [it’ll get the job done]
** good [solid neighborhood joint]
*** damn good [we’ll definitely be back]
**** yippity-yikes that was amazeballs [fantastic; one of the best]
***** holy sh!t [transcendental; best of the best]